Saks Acquires Neiman Marcus – The New York Times

In a move that would further consolidate the luxury retail market, the parent company of Saks Fifth Avenue has agreed to acquire Neiman Marcus in a $2.65 billion deal, creating the ultimate high-end department store behemoth, the companies announced on Wednesday.

The deal, which had been rumored since Neiman Marcus filed for bankruptcy protection during the pandemic, comes just over four years after Saks bought the license for the Barneys name following the bankruptcy of that group. It also follows a wave of luxury e-tail failures, including those of FarFetch and Saks is owned by HBC, a retail conglomerate that bought the American chain in 2013 — the year after HBC also acquired Lord & Taylor.

“Customers love to go to a store,” Richard Baker, the chief executive and chairman of HBC, told The New York Times. “They love to touch a product and spend time with their personal shoppers.”

Mr. Baker said that he had been envisioning this deal since he bought Saks. “Part of what excited us about acquiring Neiman Marcus was acquiring their world-class sales force,” he said. “People have forgotten how important people are. When selling luxury products, you need beautiful stores and salespeople customers trust.”

The acquisition of Neiman Marcus makes Saks Global, as the new group will be called, the dominant player in its market, with a combined 75 stores (including two Bergdorf Goodman locations), as well as 100 off-price outlets. The new group’s only real rivals in the United States will be Macy’s, which also includes Bloomingdale’s, and Nordstrom. It will be run by Marc Metrick, the current chief executive of Saks and

The companies said they planned to invest in technology, including artificial intelligence, as well as both legacy and emerging brands.

“Saks has remained steadfast in our commitment to be at the forefront of luxury fashion, meeting customers not just where they are but where they are going,” Mr. Metrick said. “Together, with our ongoing focus on innovation, we are primed to drive growth for our brand partners and create career development opportunities for the incredible talent across Saks Global.”

The deal is also a vote in favor of the future of brick-and-mortar retail and a sign of the importance of trophy real estate as luxury conglomerates like LVMH scour prime retail properties to pick up. Mr. Baker, who has a background in real estate, will now control a company with a retail footprint that includes Saks’s flagship store in Midtown Manhattan and Bergdorf Goodman on Fifth Avenue. The companies said this new portfolio of companies would be worth $7 billion.

The two retailers have long been viewed as potential matches, given their overlapping customer bases of high-end customers. But each has struggled financially, posing significant complications for their efforts over the years to combine.

What may have helped seal the deal is some help from Amazon, which is taking a minority stake in Saks Global. HBC, which also owns the Canadian department store chain Hudson’s Bay, is financing the acquisition with $2 billion it has raised from existing investors, while affiliates of the investment firm Apollo Global Management are providing $1.5 billion in debt.

Mr. Baker said the company was “not planning on closing any stores or digital businesses or reducing services in any way,” even though both operate in many of the same markets.

Analysts said they expected the retailers would be able to save other costs by combining.

“There will be efficiencies, without a doubt,” said Robert Burke, the founder of a luxury retail consulting firm. “Retail has been sluggish lately, and maybe there will be more investment in both stores than there has been in the past. The real question will be how do the brands react to this? Especially the LVMH and Kering brands.”

LVMH is the luxury conglomerate that owns Dior, Louis Vuitton and Fendi, among other brands; Kering owns Gucci, Balenciaga and Saint Laurent. Both groups sell their goods in Saks and Neiman Marcus, but have increasingly focused on driving consumers to their own stores and e-commerce sites.

Smaller independent brands, on the other hand, which have long relied on department stores to reach consumers across the country, will have even less choice and power in their negotiations with stores.

The Federal Trade Commission has been paying close attention to consolidation among fashion retailers. In April, it moved to block the planned acquisition of Capri (the group that owns Michael Kors, Versace and Jimmy Choo) by Tapestry (which owns Coach, Kate Spade and Stuart Weitzman). The agency argued that the planned consolidation would affect competition among the different brands. That case is expected to go to court in September.

When it comes to the Saks-Neiman deal, Mr. Burke said, “I am sure they will be looking at it closely.”

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